James Young, a Musical Theatre, Vocal Music, and Guitar teacher at the Johnson-Wabash 6th Grade Center in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, was selected by a committee of his peers and education partners across the state as the 2022 Missouri Teacher of the Year. He becomes the 53rd Missouri Teacher of the Year since the program’s inception in 1957, and he is the first recipient from the Ferguson-Florissant School District.
Collaborative partnerships have been an integral part of Young’s success in the classroom. He has worked with organizations like St. Louis Dancing Classrooms, St. Louis Classical Guitar, Strings Attached, and LIFE Arts Inc. to help bring high-quality arts education to his students and the school community. Young teaches group lessons and is a board member for the local non-profit organization Suzuki Harmony STL, and he is also active as a youth leader in his local church. Young believes in the importance of being a role model who is able to influence students beyond the walls of the classroom.
“As the nation and world are still battling with a pandemic, we need to be sure that we are supporting students with the tools necessary for them to be healthy citizens while lifting them up to become the problem solvers of the future,” said Young. “We must take the challenge before us, answering the call to help create classrooms and communities where our students can learn and grow, with a sense of love, acceptance, and belonging.”
“Missouri is fortunate to have so many passionate, dedicated educators, and James is certainly one of those shining stars in our state,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “James’s teaching style emphasizes the importance of developing both academic and life skills through arts education, and he strives to educate the whole student. As the pandemic continues, this is an important focus for so many educators, so James will certainly be a wonderful representative as our state’s Teacher of the Year.”
Young has spent most of his 14-year teaching career at Ferguson-Florissant. During his time with the district, he has also taught middle school Band, Music Appreciation, and General Music. Before starting as a teacher in his hometown, Young served in the United States Army, where he joined the U.S. Army Chorus during his tour in South Korea. Young resides in Ferguson with his wife and seven children.
Young will serve as Missouri’s representative in the National Teacher of the Year program. He will be honored during DESE’s Teacher of the Year recognition event in Jefferson City on Tuesday, October 19, along with the other six finalists, semi-finalists, and Regional Teachers of the Year.
The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers, working tirelessly to provide a high-quality education to their students. Darrion Cockrell (a.k.a. Mr. DC), a physical education teacher from Crestwood Elementary School (Lindbergh Schools), is the current Missouri Teacher of the Year.
You can hear an interview with Young, who spoke to Missourinet reporters by clicking play on the audio link below: